I’m no pilot, but for Christmas I did get two new awesome remote control toys: A Blade CX2 electric helicopter and an AeroBird Swift electric airplane. These are not the cheap kind you get at Toys R Us, but the high end ones that come only from hobby stores.
Having never owned any high-end R/C machines before I unpacked my toys and proceeded to immediately crash them, with impunity!
After this costly little experience I decided that perhaps it would be less costly to get a little “virtual” practice before I put myself in the poor house buying replacement parts.
Not wanting to spend a fortune on flight simulation games either, I began searching for free flight simulator games that would be both entertaining and educational. Here now is my thoroughly tested list of the top free flight simulator games.
First, a little about the hardware I used for testing purposes.
- Logitech Extreme 3D Pro
- Saitek Aviator PS-33 flight sim joystick
- Dell 3.2Ghz P4 / 2GB RAM / SATA drives
- 128 MB Nvidia Graphics card with dual monitors
Now, on to the rankings – in reverse order of course, to keep you in suspense while you read on to number 1!
It seems like the big daddy of the bunch is FlightGear, an open source game available for just about any platform out there (Unix, Win, Mac, etc.). There are tons of airplanes and also scenery for the entire world!
Even with a joystick, it’s important to print out the Quick Reference because you have to use the keyboard too.
For me, this was a little too much of a real flight simulator and not quite enough of a “game”. Not being a pilot, I don’t really want the flight simulator game to be as realistic as possible. I just want to have control over the basics and be able to practice my takeoffs, landings and maneuvers.
3.) Aces High
When I first discovered the Aces High Web site I was not really all that thrilled. It is a nice looking site, but it appeared that the game was only free because you’d have to pay to go online and dogfight with other users. Still, I decided to install it anyway and check it out. I’m glad I did, because it turned out to be a great flight simulator game!
In my opinion this game offers a number of attractive features:
- The game appears to offer a lot of options for the more experienced flight simulator pilots, but it was also easy enough to use that I was able to get up and flying (and shooting) without even reading the manual.
- The game allows you to choose different planes, theaters, armaments, and all kinds of other options.
- You do not have to go online to fly around and shoot planes down. You can play in the practice mode as long as you want with plenty of planes to go after.
- The flight simulator seems pretty real to me. You can black out from G-forces, you can crash, run out of fuel or ammo, eject, parachute and much more that I haven’t even explored yet.
- Finally, if and when the day comes that you feel like going online and joining the community that option is always available.
2.) Flight Model Simulator
The reality is that this is the only free flight simulator game in the bunch that is actually realistic for flying model airplanes, which is of course what started me on the hunt for flight simulators in the first place! When I play this I realize just how much practice I actually need before going out and crashing my R/C plane and helicopter.
Seriously, I’ve practiced for hours and I still suck! So, the reason that I didn’t rate this game number 1 is that it’s not what I would call “fun” although it is educational.
Also, it’s a little rough around the edges in certain areas mainly relating to the graphics and to how the joystick interfaced with the game.
However, if you’re needing some software to practice for a remote controlled airplane you need to get this one and use it!
Of all the free flight simulator games here, this one impresses me the most because it was created by just one guy, who happens to also be a pilot.
The fact that it comes from a lone developer doesn’t seem to have been a problem though because the game allows you to fly more than 40 types of airplanes, dogfight, ground attack, be a formation leader, take off & land on an aircraft carrier, try cross wind landings, network play, and more!
The best part about this game is that you can use it as a flight simulation trainer, or you can use it as an air combat game! It is a relatively small download, the plane choices are actually planes you’d want to fly, and it’s just plain fun.
YSFlight simply wins this contest hands down!
If anyone has other good freeware flight simulator games that I should check out, I’d love to know about them! Just drop a comment below.
Other software I already evaluated includes: